India would need to get the best out of their thin bowling resources and avoid too much experimentation when they clash with Sri Lanka in their must win Super 4 game in the Asia Cup on Tuesday. In the absence of injured Ravindra Jadeja, Harshal Patel and Jasprit Bumrah, India do not have a lot of options to play with in the bowling department. India went in with five bowling options against Pakistan on Sunday and it did not work out in their favour as Bhuvneshwar Kumar had a rare off day.
The five-bowler theory also makes Hardik’s four overs more critical. Axar Patel, who is a like for like replacement for Jadeja, can be brought into the playing eleven to lend more balance.
Avesh Khan, who was unwell ahead of the Pakistan clash, can also come back as the third specialist pacer.
While Rahul Dravid stressed that India would be looking to play their best eleven in the lead up to the World Cup, the Rohit Sharma-led side continues to experiment.
With the intense debate over Rishabh Pant versus Dinesh Karthik in the team, the management gave a go to Deepak Hooda at the expense of the Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper-batter, who hardly got to bat in the first two games.
The bowling resources may not be enough at the moment but India need to decide quickly on their middle-order.
The biggest positive out of the Pakistan game was the performance of the high-profile top-order. All three- Rohit, K L Rahul and Virat Kohli — showed a lot of aggression and gave India an electric start.
Kohli’s critics can finally rest after his second successive half-century in Asia Cup. He may not be back to his best but he gave enough signs on Sunday that he is getting there.
One can expect Kohli and two openers to go all guns blazing against Sri Lanka from ball one.
Having pulled off two close chases against Bangladesh and Afghanistan, Sri Lanka have turned their campaign around after a heavy defeat in their opening game.
Barring number three Charith Asalanka, Sri Lanka batters have made an impact, whether it was skipper Dasun Shanaka and Kusal Mendis against Bangladesh or Danushka Gunathilaka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa against Afghanistan.
The Chris Silverwood coached side now has the belief that it can win from any situation. It is a developing squad but India will be wary of them. Another loss will eliminate India from the final race.
“It’s the belief of the dressing room. As a team we believe we can chase anything on these kind of wickets. When chasing, we have a clear idea of how the wicket behaves,” Shanaka had said after a fine over Afghanistan. Squads: India: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Deepak Hooda, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravi Bishnoi, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Avesh Khan, Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin.
Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (c), Danushka Gunathilaka, Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Ashen Bandara, Dhananjaya de Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana, Jeffrey Vandersay, Praveen Jayawickrama, Chamika Karunaratne, Dilshan Madushanka, Matheesha Pathirana, Nuwanidu Fernando and Dinesh Chandimal.
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